Two prominent Liberal commentators have savaged Scott Morrison’s Coalition for very different reasons – with one arguing the party has gone too far to the left, while the other claims Scott Morrison’s government is alienating wealthy, inner-urban voters by lurching to the right.
Outspoken pair Peta Credlin and Niki Savva both attacked Mr Morrison’s strategy in their influential columns on Thursday, as new polling shows the Coalition is bleeding voters in wealthy inner-city electorates concerned about climate change, while also losing regional votes to minor right-wing parties.
Ms Credlin, a Sky News host and Tony Abbott’s former chief of staff, said the Liberal and National parties were in danger of ‘standing for nothing’ if they continued to try and appeal to wealthy, inner-city moderates who were well insulated from economic difficulties.
Meanwhile, Niki Savva, an ex-adviser to former Liberal treasurer Peter Costello, said the Liberal Party’s focus on conservative issues is pushing inner-city voters away from the Coalition and into the arms of the so-called ‘teal independents’, who are campaigning on action on climate change and a federal integrity commission.
Political pundit Peta Credlin (pictured) said the Liberal Party has not been conservative enough and alienated its base with progressive policy stances
In her critique, Ms Credlin wrote the Liberal Party faces some ‘tough soul-searching’ post election should they lose seats in their heartland to the independents as Labor candidates sweep up voter’s first preferences.
Ms Credlin said Liberal moderates lurching further to the left to compete with independents were alienating the party’s conservative base and seeing the party hemorrhage votes to so-called right-wing ‘splinter parties’, such as the United Australia Party and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation.
‘I’d argue the biggest risk to the government is not losing one or two wealthy seats to the green-left but losing quiet Australians to conservative splinter parties, with their ill-disciplined preference flows, that don’t try to sit on both sides of the political fence.,’ Ms Credlin wrote in the Australian.
However, Ms Savva countered in her column for The Age that the party was in real danger of losing it’s once heartland in the inner-city because of Mr Morrison’s focus on transgender issues and the challenge from the well-funded independents.
Ms Savva argued the Liberals were ‘hollowing out’ the party in inner-city seats by imposing ultra-conservative candidates like Katherine Deves in a bid to win over disaffected Labor voters in western Sydney and the Hunter region.
She said the move was backfiring and pushing undecided voters to the more moderate independents.
Niki Savva (pictured) has said the Liberal Party will lose inner-city seats at the election because of Mr Morrison’s stance on transgender issues and the rise of the ‘teal’ independents
Ms Savva recalled Mr Morrison’s opposition to same-sex marriage in 2017, and his refusal to condemn Israel Folau’s homophobic rants in 2019.
‘Senior Liberals fear Morrison has deliberately sealed the fate of a clutch of moderates already struggling to survive,’ she wrote in The Age.
Ms Savva wrote that multiple Liberal insiders were disappointed with Mr Morrison’s comments about Deves at a press conference after she recanted her apology for transphobic comments on Sky News,
Mr Morrison had said he was ‘absolutely pleased’ to have been able to recruit and appoint his captain’s pick in Warringah, calling her a ‘strong female Liberal candidate… that’s what being a Liberal is all about,’ he said.
His comments showed he was out of touch even amongst many in his own party, claimed Ms Savva.
Ms Savva (pictured) hit out at her former party’s ‘crude political tactics’ targeting the rise of independents in swing seats
‘It is fatuous for Morrison to congratulate himself for choosing Deves when she makes Craig Kelly (another of Mr Morrison captain’s picks) look rational, and after he and his party have so badly mishandled the threat from the teal independents.
‘The crude political tactics, the sledging, the denigration of obviously articulate, accomplished women for daring to challenge the Liberals’ best and brightest was a manifestation of the sort of behaviour which had alienated those voters in the first place.’
Ms Savva lashed out at the Liberal party’s treatment of the teal independents so far in the election lead up, calling it a ‘petty’ and ‘patronising’ campaign. She wrote Liberal moderates were losing position to those independents because of voters’ intense dislike of Mr Morrison.
Credlin, on the other hand, believed the party needed to forget the independents in inner-city seats and refocus on rural and conservative votes.
Credlin said her former party had been bullied into a climate plan by the media and independents (Pictured: Scott Morrison with the infamous lump of coal he brought into Parliament House in 2017)
She believes the party’s focus on climate change has alienated regional voters and instead pushed them to minor conservative parties like the United Australia Party.
Ms Credlin lamented ‘bullying’ from the media and inner-city ‘modern Liberal’ MPs for making the government look weak on climate change, and talked up the importance of the National Party in retaining Queensland and Western Australian seats for the Coalition.
The Prime Minister, she wrote, had been unfairly made to look shamefaced about the moment he brought a lump of coal into parliament – and had been largely absent from teal seats as a result.
She also criticised the LNP for offering no fourth term agenda beyond promises based on cash splashes and defence.
‘If the government loses, the Coalition will have to think long and hard about what it stands for and who it represents,’ she wrote.
Mr Albanese was declared the winner of Wednesday night’s debate, as new polling data reveals the Labor Party is on track to win the May 21 election
‘Morrison won in 2019 thanks to the quiet Australians but many feel ignored ever since. The reality is, with less than two weeks to go, if you don’t stand for something, you end up standing for nothing.’
The latest YouGov poll has predicted a big Labor victory over the incumbent Coalition, with the ALP set to win 80 seats compared with a combined 63 for the Liberal and National parties.
The poll revealed the ALP could form a majority government with multiple Coalition seats predicted to fall to independents.
According to its results, the LNP is bleeding first preferences in seats where voters are turning their eyes to issues of integrity in politics and climate action.
Independents are clawing ground from the Liberal Party in inner-city seats like Wentworth in Sydney, and lead in the polls in blue-ribbon seats such as Warringah, Kooyong, and Goldstein.
Teal independents have centered their campaign on attacking the LNP’s track record on the government’s parliamentary behaviour, including scandals involving frontbenchers and failure to introduce legislation on a Federal anti-corruption body.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s seat of Kooyong is slated to tip to independent, Dr Monique Ryan, 53-47 on a two-party basis, despite heavy Liberal campaign spending in the seat.
The Liberal Party is tipped to put forward Defence Minister Peter Dutton as its next leader should the PM stand down in defeat and Josh Frydenberg not be re-elected.
After Wednesday night’s leadership debate Seven’s audience of undecided voters resoundingly favoured the Labor leader.
KEY ISSUES FROM THE THIRD DEBATE
* Both leaders committed to not introduce a carbon or mining tax if elected.
* Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the path to clean energy was not about mandates but about transitioning over a period of time to ensure reliability in the energy network.
* Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said Labor was using the same system the Abbott government created with the safeguard mechanism and had a plan to fix the transmission system by stabilising the energy grid.
* Mr Morrison said employees should get the minimum wage and he would welcome a pay rise for all workers, but said he did not think small businesses could afford a wage increase.
* Mr Albanese said if the Fair Work Commission made a decision to grant a five per cent increase to the minimum wage he would ‘absolutely’ welcome it.
* Mr Morrison repeated his characterisation of Mr Albanese as a ‘loose unit’, saying he made things up as he went along.
* Mr Albanese said he would lead the most experienced incoming Labor government in Australia’s history, referencing his time as deputy prime minister and in other key government portfolios. He said the prime minister had a history of blaming people when there were challenges.
* Both leaders were asked to name one strength they admired in the other but that also worried them.
* Mr Morrison said he admired his opponent’s determination to rise from humble beginnings to a leadership position in Australia.
* Mr Albanese said he admired the prime minister’s commitment to the nation and his increased funding for mental health during his time in government.
* The two leaders laid out their plans for boosting productivity in the economy. Mr Albanese said Labor’s childcare and renewable policy would boost participation in the workforce, while Mr Morrison said investing in the skills of Australians was the key.
COST OF LIVING
* A fuel excise cut, one-off payments for seniors and increased tax relief are part of Mr Morrison’s plan to help with cost of living while Mr Albanese has longer term goals to assist with childcare payments and invest in renewable energy to lower power prices.
* Mr Morrison called his opponent a ‘complete weather vane’ on border protection but Mr Albanese said Labor supported boat turnbacks, offshore processing, and settlement in third countries.
* Mr Morrison said he would bring forward a debate on a bill to establish a federal anti-corruption commission, if he could ensure it would be passed.
* Mr Albanese has promised to introduce legislation for an anti-corruption commission by the end of the year.
* Mr Albanese said no one in the Labor party had registered a formal complaint about the treatment of the late senator Kimberly Kitching. He said if there had been a complaint, Labor policy would be to hold an investigation.
* Mr Albanese criticised the PM for supporting Clive Palmer’s legal case with taxpayer dollars instead of backing the Western Australian state leader during the Delta outbreak.
* Mr Morrison confirmed Alan Tudge would return to cabinet as education minister if the Liberal-National coalition was re-elected.
* He said he understood the taxpayer-funded $500,000 payment to Mr Tudge’s former staffer Rachelle Miller was yet to be settled and it was a private matter.
* The prime minister said he did not agree with a Liberal MP who reportedly said childcare was ‘outsourcing parenting’.
* Mr Morrison said his government wouldn’t promise something they couldn’t deliver and he said a 90 per cent childcare subsidy for working parents was something all Australians would have to pay for.
* Mr Albanese said the prime minister was wrong to view childcare as a cost rather than an investment in women, families and the economy.